Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Season Premiere Recaps and Reviews

The West Wing Continuity Guide now has its recap with dialogue excerpts up.

Comment from TV Guide.

Another recap from Westwingfan.com. .

Read a personal review of last night's episode from TV Squad

There is more Episode Discussion at Television Without Pity.

LTG at Television Without Pity has written his long recap with personal commentary.

Review from Canada.com:
"The West Wing is rising in the opinion polls after a lacklustre second term. A change of venue -- the four-time Emmy Award winner now airs on Sundays, instead of Wednesdays -- and the infusion of fresh blood in Jimmy Smits's Democratic presidential hopeful and Alan Alda as his cagey Republican opponent have charged the once-tired political drama with new energy.

Last week's seventh-season opener, written with real flair by Debora Cahn and directed in kind by ER veteran Christopher Misiano, was a throwback to the Aaron Sorkin era of lively, intelligent walk-and-talk scenes through the corridors of power.

The West Wing is best when showing the minutiae of politicians putting plan into action, and less successful when preaching its liberal world view. Here's just one example of something you would never hear in the less nuanced, more obvious -- and more popular -- Commander in Chief.

There's a love of language and an affection for policy wonks that comes through in practically every word, as in this exchange where Marlee Matlin's political pollster advises Smits's campaign staff on their candidate's image shortcomings: "Ask people to describe their impressions of Matt Santos in one word and you get 'appealing,' followed by 'charming' and 'vital.' Strong, yes, but not in a defend-our-borders kind of a way. It's more of a hold-me-in-your-arms-and-stroke -my-hair-while-we-gaze-at -the-fire-and-I-run-my-hands-over-your-biceps way. Women love him; men want to have a beer with him. It's just not clear that it would occur to anybody to vote for him. We've got to convince people that he's substantial. 'Appealing.' We just want to make sure no one mistakes that for insubstantial."

The poll is good news, another handler decides: "We've got the charisma factor; they can't teach that. Now let's just see if we can project some depth."

"I can carry around a copy of Proust," Santos interjects wryly.

There's room for humour and insider wit, too, as when a crabby campaign manager barks at her staff: "OK, the current schedule is yellow. If you have a blue copy or a pink copy, burn it; it is tragically out of date, and it will put you in Kansas when the rest of us are in Michigan."

The West Wing is back, and it's firing on all cylinders. "

From the Salt Lake Tribune:
"Even "The West Wing's" approval rating dropped from the fourth to the fifth season in the now-notorious cliffhanger involving the president's daughter getting kidnapped. (It also happened to be the year the show's creative force, Aaron Sorkin, left the series.)
But if Sunday's seventh-season premiere of "The West Wing" is any indication, the show could be inching its way back to greatness. It airs every Sunday at 7 p.m. on KSL Channel 5.
The presidential election between the idealistic Matt Santos (Jimmy Smits) and the moderately conservative Arnold Vinick (Alan Alda) is heating up now that Santos has announced President Bartlet's former chief of staff, Leo McGarry (John Spencer), is his running mate and polls show he is closer than expected to Vinick.
Still, Santos becomes suspicious of McGarry's value as a running mate, and their campaign manager, Josh Lyman (Bradley Whitford), becomes furious when he finds out his own Democratic president might help the Republicans undercut Santos by endorsing an education plan. It's ironic that things are starting to heat up outside the West Wing.
Yeah, there were plot twists last year that were hard for me to swallow: a press secretary inexperienced in formulating foreign and domestic policy becoming the president's new chief of staff, and McGarry being picked as a running mate despite his former drug addiction, alcoholism and a recent heart attack. But it looks like the show is beginning to get back to the rhythm of backdoor politics, which is when "The West Wing" was at its best."

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